This marks the first time the public has been welcomed to the island since 1711, according to a statement from the Sipson Island Trust.
The island was purchased in June for conservation, public access and educational purposes.
A fundraising campaign led by the Friends of Pleasant Bay and the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts continues in an effort to bring another 8 acres of the 24-acre island into trust ownership.
Sipson Island was the last island in Pleasant Bay that was still privately owned and not open to the public. The trust and Orleans residents Richard and Cheryl Nadler forged a partnership to buy the island and conserve it.
At the closing in June, the trust was to take ownership of six lots. The Nadlers were to retain a 2.2-acre parcel for themselves and temporarily hold two additional lots until the funding was complete. When it acquires those last two lots, the trust will own almost 22 acres of the island, all of which will be under conservation restrictions.
“We are so excited about welcoming visitors to this extraordinary place,” trust President Tasia Blough said. “As we’ve been preparing the island for opening, I’ve been constantly amazed by the range of beauty we’re discovering. It’s like unlocking a secret garden! There are so many places to explore on the trail system and along the beaches. We can’t wait to share them with the community.”
The opening comes with some limitations. Visitors are urged to access the island from the beaches on the protected eastern shore rather than from the busy channel in The Narrows on the west side.
Boats approaching from the north should look for a white buoy about one-quarter mile northeast of the island signaling hazardous rocks.
The island is surrounded by critical marine habitat, which the trust is charged with protecting. Only shallow-draft boats (under 22 feet) that do not cause bottom scour may land. The dock on the east side is for private use only, and the beach area immediately south of it may be traversed but not occupied.
Signs on shore will provide guidance on exploring the island safely. Land surrounding the few houses that still stand are off-limits to the public for safety reasons. The trust plans to “undevelop” and restore these areas.
Visitors are asked to stay on mowed pathways and keep away from steep bluffs and unsound structures.
Conservation restrictions prohibit pets, fires and public camping anywhere on the island.
More information about visiting the island will be available on the forthcoming Sipson Island Trust website. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Article originally published by Cape Cod Times.